Wednesday, 30 January 2013

chicken run...

A good friend of mine recently got chickens for her garden. Well, she got four hens and a cock. Unfortunately the cock turned out to be very aggressive and angry and chased her round the garden until she had to get rid of him, but it was kind of worth it to be able to have endless juvenile conversations about what a gal should do with an aggressive cock. 

There is a point to this that relates to sewing I swear. It's her birthday soon so I did a little me-made present for her. This idea is from Simple Sewing with Lola Nova. 

It's stenciling using freezer paper and fabric dye, which is very effective and much less fiddly than screen printing. 

Now, when we were growing up in Ireland, if anyone went to America they always had to bring back Levis for people at home because you couldn't get them here. Levis were like the coolest thing EVER because you couldn't get them here. Nowadays we can get pretty much anything in Ireland and anything you can't, there's always the Internet. 

Except one thing!!! FREEZER PAPER!!! There is a gap in the market here! Okay, not a very big gap in the market but a gap nonetheless. and the annoying thing is that even on the Internet, Amazon won't deliver it to Ireland. 

I managed to scam a bit from my mum who ordered it and had it delivered to her friend's son in the UK and then sent it over here! Apparently another alternative is to ask a butcher if he has any that he might give to you - they wrap the meat in it. One side is plastic coated and shiny. 

And then I started carving chickens into it. 

You iron the freezer paper on to the fabric (shiny side down) and then gently with a foam brush paint it on. 

I did this on a piece of linen and hemmed the edges and that's it, here is the tea towel! I'm really happy with how it turned out, it's a nice little way of giving a personal present to someone. 

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

itty bitty hook book

My pal Jo is an art conservator - and she is off travelling the world and restoring superstar paintings while she's at it and so, I set about trying to make her a roll for her tools - kind of like surgical tweezers and things like that. 

I thought that I could use a roll that people usually use for crochet hooks and I used a pattern in Lola Nova's book. 

Actually as soon as I cut out the pieces I realised that it was going to be way too small for the purpose of storing Jo's tools. But I thought I might as well persevere since I had cut it out so I could figure out the best way of doing her one. 

It took a while, partly because I spent half the time shoving the cat off the table but actually mainly because one of my new year's resewlutions is to be a more 'precise sewer'. So, I spent quite a bit of time measuring, cutting, re-measuring and trimming to make sure everything was exact and at right angles etc. It  was ultimately quite satisfying to have edges meet up and generally made me feel kind of like a grown-up. :)

I made a mistake I've made before and would quite like to stop making now. 

Towards the end I was sewing up the four edges (sewing the lining to the outer fabric). 

So I did long end no. 1, then progressed to short end no. 2. 

My mistake was beginning at the non-sewn edge and working towards the long end which has already been sewn (you follow?!). The problem is that you are much more likely to get a horrible bunched up effect if you do it this way around. If you start from the edge that has already been sewn, you can smooth as you go and you end up a much happier person who does not have to unpick stitches. 

It's a cute present though for anyone who is into crochet or you could use it for make-up brushes, for art supplies. Or you could make it much bigger and make it for knitting needles. Or it could be adapted as a travel jewellery roll. 

The next time I make it, it will be big enough to fit very important art conservation tools! 

ALSO, this is the first project of the Stashbusting Sewalong run by Emily and Cation Designs, on the January theme of ittybitty. 

The fabric I used is actually a Christmas present from Jo - hence officially stash - but there is soooo much of it I won't be left short! And I reached into the scrap basket for the used leftovers from my Lisette Tunic for the contrasting fabric. 

By the way, what is it with cats and sewing tables??? 
 Oh Hello, my name is Flash

Flash was cracking me up this evening. She ONLY wanted to sit right ON my hook-book (a ploy to get my attention away from the project and onto her chin). 
There's a cat on my table, what am I gonna do...

Then when I shifted her from that she then clambered on up on the ironing board - apparently a cosy place to rest one's weary paws...

Who needs armchairs when you have an ironing board??? 

I started thinking that curiosity might maim the cat so moved her off that. Then she went and started pushing my sewing scissors off the table onto the floor with her paw. Felt a bit spiteful actually. As well as being cute and fabulous, cats are most certainly evil. 

I am inherently evil despite my fluffy exterior

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

stashbusting sewalong

I'm late to this party but I've pledged to bust the stash with Cation Designs and Tumbleweeds In The Wind.... 

I haven't been sewing with the degree of obsession that I have developed in the last year for that long but already I've built up a sizeable stash that needs to be tackled. 

Here are a few of the bits and pieces that I'm hoping will move from shelf to wardrobe. 

I seem to have unintentionally developed a "Liberty Department": 

Aw, isn't it so pretty? I have plans for this - this is earmarked for the top version of the Lisette pattern I made recently. 

I've no plans for this as yet. I think it's really pretty but can't quite visualise what it will become! Maybe a skirt...? Hmmmm... what do you think? 

Another Liberty silk, this time very lightweight. This is so lovely but I've never sewn with flimsy fabrics and thought of wrecking this lovely silk scares the crap out of me. But I'd like to make the Colette Taffy blouse. 

I've actually been pretty good about using the fabric that I got when I was in Paris last year. This stripey cotton jersey is still left though. I'd love to find a really fabulous dress pattern to make with this fabric. The other thing about using this is that I feel I should use the overlocker - still haven't got around to that. 

I also have a fair bit of free-to-me fabric: stuff that my mum has had in her cupboard for years. Some of it I think is from my granny's cupboard and some of it is from an old lady who used to live down the road from us. 

I love love love this fabric, coolest thing ever. In fact I did make my square top with it but I still have lots left. I think I want to make sure that whatever I make with this is really special. The fact that it is vintage makes it so precious that I get a bit paralysed in terms of sewing with it. 

I don't know WHAT to do with this. I've had it for ages. Not sure where it came from and actually I think it's really cool, but it's so retro that I think it would be hard to not look like you're in fancy dress. 

As for this, good thing there's going to be a 'vibrant' theme in the sewalong.

This is pretty funky isn't it? Actually I have used some of it already. A few years ago, my mum and I recovered this chest using a staple gun. I remember how excited we were about the stripes matching up! I keep all my bags and belts and things in it. 

This is just a sample of the fabrics tucked away on the stash shelf. I've said that I'll make 12 pieces - one for each month... I'm not sure what all of them will be yet and some of the themes are yet to be announced. 

I have to admit that I've just written this post and am basically saying that fear has been holding me back from sewing with a lot of these fabrics - fear of wrecking a beautiful fabric, fear of the overlocker, fear of sewing with lightweight fabric..OH GOD!!!! I think I'm having an epiphany!!! 


Anyway, January is the month of ittybitty - tackling the scrap basket. Actually this is the part of my stash that probably MOST needs to be tackled because I hate throwing away all the leftover bits. 

So, onwards to the stash busting! 

Sunday, 20 January 2013

word up y'all...

Have you noticed a proliferation of the printed word on diy blogs at the moment? I thought I would share how I've been getting words onto fabric of late. 

These were a couple of presents I gave for Christmas this year that were just to make people smile.

I got this fan for my mum. She's heading off to New Zealand where it is hot at the moment (just a bit jealous) so I thought it might be handy, so I made a linen case for it so she could put it in her bag: 

I painted on the writing with fabric paint, a letter stencil, a very fine paintbrush and a steady hand! 

You need to give the paint a good iron afterwards to set the paint. 

And while I was at it, I somehow managed to get my man addicted to Strictly Come Dancing this year. 

Bruce Forsyth is pretty amazing to be doing what he's doing - he's 84! Anyway we laugh at his cheesy one-liners (they are so cheesy) so I stencilled this onto a t-shirt:

Thursday, 17 January 2013

the rags to riches top...

Kia Ora friends, 

I got the fabric for my latest top in a place called Raglan in New Zealand - possibly one of the nicest places on Planet Earth!

It's a small town by the sea with a wave that makes surfers wet their pants. 

 And my brother and his girlfriend just happen to live there so I get to visit when I can get the funds and time to take a day and a half long journey to go there! 

In New Zealand people are really into a more eco way of life than here... Tonnes of recycling and people growing their own vegetables (fruit and veg just grows like crazy there) and generally living a bit more thoughtfully in a lot of ways. 

Anyway, I got this fabric in Xtreme Waste. It's Raglan's recycling centre but what makes it different to any recycling centre here is that the people working there meticulously sift through everything that gets dropped off and sell anything even remotely worthwhile through their shop. 

 It's one of those places that you never know what you might find. Like for example some random psychedelic '70s style print for a dollar! 

I made this from the pattern I drew up for my Flatter Me cowl neck top

However, I made a fatal error this time. My fabric wasn't as stretchy as the stripey jersey I got in Paris and unfortunately I didn't take this into account. Every time I put it on, I have to make sure someone is nearby to help me take it off. I wish I were joking. I'm sparing you an illustration of me attempting to wear this. 

So I'm planning on bequeathing it to a friend who is a little littler than me! 

I'm also going to keep working on the pattern so that I can post it up here sometime soon. 

Friday, 11 January 2013

diy couture slouch top

Alright! The first test drive of Rosie Martin's DIY Couture - my Slouch Top. 

I used fabric from the stash that I wasn't too attached to because I really had no idea how it would turn out. Although it grew on me and I actually really like this fabric now.

Getting the markings for cutting involves doing a couple of measurements on your body and then drawing around a t-shirt that fits you snugly. 

I was lucky that there was enough though because it uses  A LOT of fabric! And there isn't a guide on how much fabric you might need in the book. I know it depends on what size you are but you are drawing in chalk straight on to the fabric so it could be a disaster if you run out.

For this one, which is the coffee classic, the front is 84cm wide and 58 cm long and the back is 109cm wide and 68cm long. So I guess you'd be looking about a metre and a half of 115cm wide fabric. 

It's quite ... eeeehhh... voluminous...

The only thing I'm not too crazy about is the whole visible seam thing. The side and shoulder seams are done last and they can peek out a little. It is particularly not great in my version because the lining is in such a contrasting colour. I used this one because it was literally the only thing I had that there would be enough of and it is a strange cream crimplene! What a strange fabric is Crimplene. 

Perhaps if the colours were more similar it wouldn't be so noticeable. But I think that with these designs, the idea is they are quick and easy to throw together, they are a bit of fun so best not to get too hung up on  some of the details. 


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Saturday, 5 January 2013

in the hands of the keeper of the jar...

What a kick ass idea from Karen at Did You Make ThatShe seems to have created a monster with her Sewlutions 2013.  I missed the deadline, hotdiggitydammit, but like most others I don't mind about the give-away, it's a great motivation to make a 'resewlution'!

Everyone is throwing in their 'sewlution' for the New Year in the hope that instead of only being accountable for ourselves that it might encourage us to keep to it. I have so many recurring New Year's Resolutions that I've stopped making them. Like learning Spanish. That's on every year. 

So my 'sewlution' is to overcome my overlocker fear! 

I know that I'm actually really lucky to have this in my house but I am so 'manana manana' (oh look at my Spanish, lol!) about taking the cover off it and using it. 

It's all those threads. Where do they go? Threading the thing seems like a terrifying prospect. 

And the cutter!!! The cutter!!! 

What happens if you cut too far??? What good is a gal's trusty stitch-picker then huh?!

Well... 2013 is the year of the overlocker. It's a Sewlution, so it has to be. :)  If anyone out there has any handy overlocker/ serger hints, I'm all ears!

Thursday, 3 January 2013

i declare this violet finished

Yes I do - and oh my, don't I look pleased with myself!

Last summer I made a Colette Violet blouse but I wasn't too happy with the shape. I wanted to be able to wear it with jeans not tucked in, but the way it was it really needed to be tucked into a skirt or higher-waisted jeans. 


I put in darts in the front and re-did the side seam about four times (incrementally because I was afraid to go too far!) until I got it to a fit that I liked.

So here is the finished version, waiting for summertime to roll around again, yeeeha!

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